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By Gerald Connor at
There is increasing awareness of and ad hoc use of mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution in Arizona.
Of the three styles of mediation facilitative, evaluative, and transformative, evaluative mediation is used by private practitioners addressing civil court cases, while the facilitative approach is used in domestic relations, limited jurisdiction courts, and community mediation programs. Transformative mediation is rarely used in Arizona.
The two population centers in Arizona are Maricopa County, which includes the cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale, and Pima County, which includes the city of Tucson. These two counties' respective populations of 2.3 million and 800,000 account for approximately 85% of the state's total population.
Maricopa County has a major mediation program: 1500 cases are mediated each year in the limited jurisdiction courts, and 7,500 domestic relations cases are mediated each year in Superior Court.
Pima County has one Superior Court judge whose sole function is to provide settlement conferences for civil cases. The limited jurisdiction courts are currently designing a mediation program which will use community volunteers.
Several other of Arizona's 15 counties have mediation programs. Cochise County as a large court program, using both mediation and arbitration for civil cases. Its program relies on volunteers to deliver services.
Coconino County has a mandatory mediation program for all civil cases and mediates domestic relations cases where custody of minor children is in question. The court collects fees from service users and pays its mediators for their services.
Pinal County has a long standing domestic relations mediation program for custody cases, and uses court staff to deliver services.
Yavapai County has mediation in the limited jurisdiction courts.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Committee of the Arizona Supreme Court proposed in 1998 a Uniform Rule of Practice for ADR. Such a rule, if approved, would be binding on the superior courts in each of Arizona's 15 counties. It is uncertain whether the opposition expressed by some key members of the Bench and the Bar will prevent some form of this rule from being approved by the Arizona Supreme Court.
Private practice mediation is slowly taking hold. A few practitioners now make their living full time doing mediations, although most mediators supplement their incomes though other means.
There is growing use of mediation at the community level. Virtually all of the mediators are volunteers, trained primarily through various governmental and non-profit programs at a nominal charge.
The statewide organization for ADR practitioners and others interested in ADR is the Arizona Dispute Resolution Association (ADRA). The organization is active in a wide range of ADR issues, including development of the proposed Uniform Rule of Practice on ADR for the Arizona Supreme Court. The organization also has a quarterly newsletter and holds conferences on dispute resolution.
The State Bar of Arizona has an Alternative Dispute Resolution Section. Its members are Arizona attorneys interested in alternative dispute resolution. Non-lawyers can join as associate members. The Section has an active speakers bureau program.
The Maricopa County Alternative Dispute Resolution Association (MADRA) is a countywide organization for ADRA practitioners and others interested in alternative dispute resolution. It has an active program for informing the general public in ADR.
There is growing awareness of mediation as a dispute resolution method in Arizona, but it is not yet generally known and understood. The speakers bureau of the State Bar of Arizona's Alternative Dispute Resolution Section is increasing awareness of ADR generally, including mediation. During the last year that speakers bureau's program has focused on the state's substantial health care industry. Fledgling governmental use of mediation, particularly community-based and court-annexed mediation, also is helping.
Mediation has its strongest foothold in the domestic relations area. It is used increasingly in personal injury and medical malpractice cases. Use in business disputes is a distant third, although the ADR Section's speakers program is seeking to close that gap.
Copyright 1999 By Gerald Connor
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